CCSD Wins Three National Awards for Communications

CCSD Wins Three National Awards for Communications

Category : CCSD

The Cherokee County School District has earned its first-ever National recognition for communications by bringing home three awards from the National School Public Relations Association!

The Association, consisting of school communications and public relations leaders and experts from across the nation, each year honors outstanding publications and electronic media produced by school districts as part of their communications efforts.

“Effective communication plays an important role in fulfilling our School District’s mission,” said Barbara Jacoby, CCSD Chief Communications Officer. “It increases accountability, transparency and engagement and furthers our School District’s reputation and standing as an educational leader. We’re honored to have earned this National recognition and appreciate the collaboration with our divisions and schools to continuously improve communications.”

“School Closure Decision Process” Video

The School District won a Merit Award for its video, “School Closure Decision Process,” animated by Etowah High School teacher Brandon Grummer based on a script by Carrie McGowan, the Office of Communication’s supervisor of strategic planning, community relations and publications. Teasley Middle School Assistant Principal John Carter provided the video voiceover.

2016 Annual Report of District Progress

Two CCSD publications won Honorable Mention awards: the 2016 Annual Report of District Progress, which compiles important achievements and data from divisions and schools; and the 2016 First Day Facts, which provides a snapshot of what’s new for the coming school year. Both publications were redesigned last school year by Ms. McGowan to be more reader-friendly and useful to schools and the community at large.

“It is very rewarding to see the School District and, specifically its Office of Communications, receive these honors for our intentional efforts to provide timely, relevant and professional communications with our community,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian Hightower said. “For us, these awards represent further validation of our philosophy of transparency and quality in the area of communications and public relations!”

2016 First Day Facts

They will be recognized by the Superintendent of Schools and School Board at the Aug. 17, 2017 meeting of the School Board.

Links to the award-winning projects:

“School Closure Decision Process” Video

2016 Annual Report

2016 First Day Facts

Canton ES STEM Academy Wins Top STEM Education Award!


: Celebrating the 2016 Georgia STEM Education Award for Elementary Schools are, from left to right, Peter Gleichman of Partner in Education, the Rotary Club of Canton; and Canton ES STEM Academy STEM Education Specialist Dr. Judy Wright, Principal Beth Long and STEM Program Coordinator Emma Griffin.

Canton Elementary School STEM Academy has won the 2016 Georgia STEM Education Award for Elementary Schools!

The Technology Association of Georgia (TAG) and TAG Education Collaborative present annual awards to recognize “outstanding efforts and achievement in supporting and promoting STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education in Georgia” including one award to the most outstanding Elementary School for STEM education.


This win, which was announced and presented during the STEM Education Awards ceremony on Friday at the Loudermilk Center in Atlanta, follows Canton ES STEM Academy’s recognition last year as a finalist for a 2015 Georgia STEM Education Award.  Canton Elementary School STEM Academy is one of six Cherokee Academies in CCSD, a Nationally recognized innovative school choice program.


Dr. Judy Wright speaks onstage as she accepts the award on behalf of the school.

“Congratulations to Canton Elementary School STEM Academy on this outstanding accomplishment recognizing it as a model of excellence for the State,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said.  “This award recognizes significant work on the part of our teachers and leaders, as well as by students, families, volunteers and partners.  We’re especially proud to see a Title I school with many students whose parents speak English as a second language and/or who struggle financially receive such acclaim for the opportunities provided to every student.  The lesson plans and best practices incubated at this school are shared with staff throughout our School District and State.”

Principal Beth Long, STEM Education Specialist Dr. Judy Wright and STEM Program Coordinator Emma Griffin attended on behalf of the school; STEM Education Specialist David Cornn was unable to attend.  They were joined by Peter Gleichman of the Rotary Club of Canton, the school’s Partner in Education of the Year, which has provided significant financial and volunteer support to enhance the school’s STEM resources including construction of an AGUA Lab aquaponics lab and media center Makerspace.

“High-tech careers are some of the most in-demand and highest paying jobs in our country and the anticipated shortage of employees is staggering,” said Amanda Hendley, Chief Operating Officer for TAG. “Our 2016 STEM Education Award winners are the best of the best and are making a major impact on workforce development in Georgia.”

In addition to Canton ES STEM Academy receiving the Elementary School Award at Friday’s ceremony, Clark Creek Elementary School STEM Academy was recognized as a finalist for the STEM Certified School Outreach Award.

TAG is the leading technology industry association in the state, serving more than 30,000 members; TAG Education Collaborative is dedicated to developing science, technology, engineering and math initiatives in Georgia.

Canton ES STEM Academy will be recognized for its achievement by the Superintendent of Schools and School Board at the Dec. 1 School Board Meeting.


Cherokee County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower congratulates Canton Elementary School STEM Academy Principal Beth Long, left, and Clark Creek Elementary School STEM Academy Principal Joey Moss. Canton ES STEM Academy won the 2016 Georgia STEM Education Award for Elementary Schools, and Clark Creek ES STEM Academy was recognized as a finalist for the STEM Certified School Outreach Award.


CCSD Teacher Named Georgia Art Educator of the Year

Category : CCSD

A Cherokee County School District teacher has been named the 2017 Georgia Art Educator of the Year!

Woodstock Elementary School teacher Pam Morgan has won the statewide title in recognition of her efforts at the school, community and state level.

Woodstock ES MORGAN Pam

Woodstock Elementary School teacher is the 2017 Georgia Art Educator of the Year!

A longtime member of the Georgia Art Education Association, which presents the overall award to one Georgia teacher a year, she has served on its board as Capitol Art Exhibit Co-Chair, Youth Art Month Co-Chair and District No. 2 President.  Ms. Morgan previously has been honored with the Association’s 2010 Elementary Art Educator of the Year award and went on to win the Southeastern 2010 Elementary Art Educator of the Year title as well.

Ms. Morgan is a strong supporter of student exhibits including the Capitol Art Exhibit and Hartsfield Jackson International Airport Youth Art Exhibit and Cherokee Arts Council Youth Art Month Exhibit.  She also works with community organizations to develop artistic opportunities for students and, as a result, her students have created artwork in coordination with the City of Woodstock and Preservation Woodstock.  She educates students using cross-curricular activities and teaches art history and culture.

“The Art of Giving” project developed by Ms. Morgan shows students how their art can touch the lives of others.  The project has included creating artwork to send to soldiers, making American flags for local and New York fire departments in remembrance of 9/11, a school- and citywide art “blitz” supporting Remember Alex Brown (RAB) Don’t Text and Drive and collecting coins for “Let’s Make a Change,” which benefitted African orphans and supported their education.

27 CCSD Schools Named to Georgia’s SHAPE Honor Roll!

CCSD Shape Honor Roll - Little River ES 9 1 16

Little River Elementary School PE teachers, from left to right, Laurie Hall, Reggie Kimball and Josh Sams show off the prestigious Governor’s SHAPE Honor Roll Platinum award the school has achieved. Little River ES and 11 other CCSD schools earned the top honor… an increase from seven schools last year!

Twenty-seven Cherokee County School District schools have been named to the Governor’s SHAPE (Student Health and Physical Education) Honor Roll!

The awards recognize schools’ commitment to the health and well-being of Georgia’s students through fitness and nutrition.

CCSD’s total number of honorees is an increase from 24 last school year!  The State named 218 schools statewide (out of more than 2,600) to the Honor Roll… with CCSD claiming 12% of the total! Print

Schools can earn Platinum, Gold, Silver or Bronze medals; CCSD has increased from seven to 12 Platinum winners:

Platinum winners (12 of 125 statewide): Avery ES, Boston ES, Clark Creek ES STEM Academy, Clayton ES, Holly Springs ES STEM Academy, Indian Knoll ES, Johnston ES, Knox ES, Little River ES, Macedonia ES, Mountain Road ES, Sixes ES

Gold winners (6 of 14 statewide): Creekland MS, Dean Rusk MS, E.T. Booth MS, Freedom MS, Mill Creek MS, Woodstock MS

Silver winners (8 of 62 statewide): Arnold Mill ES, Ball Ground ES STEM Academy, Canton ES STEM Academy, Hickory Flat ES, Oak Grove ES Fine Arts Academy, Woodstock ES, Teasley MS, Etowah HS

Bronze winner (1 of 17 statewide): River Ridge HS

The Honor Roll program recognizes and rewards the schools, students and teachers that demonstrate excellence on measures of SHAPE participation, data reporting, and student wellness.  The Governor’s SHAPE initiative is a statewide program merging governmental, philanthropic and academic and business communities to address childhood obesity.

Schools also receive additional prizes from the SHAPE program ranging from banners to sports equipment based on the medal level they achieved.

These schools and their Physical Education teachers will be recognized by the Superintendent of Schools and School Board at the October 13, 2016 School Board Meeting.

CCSD Teacher Wins International Entrepreneurship Education Award

Category : CCSD

International Entrepreneurship Award Kari Palmer 8 11 16

Sequoyah High School marketing teacher Kari Palmer was honored at this summer’s 29th Annual International Entrepreneurship Institute with the Dr. Paul DeLargy Angel Award.



















A Cherokee County School District teacher has won a top award from an international entrepreneurship education program!

Sequoyah High School marketing teacher Kari Palmer was honored at this summer’s 29th Annual International Entrepreneurship Institute with the Dr. Paul DeLargy Angel Award.

The award is the highest honor the Institute bestows and “recognizes the educator who develops entrepreneurship education best practices along with implementation plans that have the greatest potential for social impact and student transformation.”  The recipient also must “exhibit passion for student transformation and capture the very spirit of a social entrepreneurship angel.”

Ms. Palmer, with CCSD Special Education teacher Linda VanFossen, developed a plan to increase high school graduation rates by involving more Career Technical Instruction (CTI) students in entrepreneurship career classes and by offering more experiential learning activities.  CTI is a program that supports Special Education students enrolled in Career, Technical and Agricultural Education classes.

Only one high school teacher receives this annual award, which is named for Dr. Paul DeLargy, founder of Real LEDGE (Leading Economic Development through Global Entrepreneurship), in honor of his dedication to transforming student lives through entrepreneurship.  Dr. DeLargy, according to the Institute, “believes that educators who use experiential best practices to serve, teach and inspire their students are the greatest social entrepreneurs, or as he more lovingly calls them, social entrepreneurship angels.”

The Institute is presented by Real LEDGE in partnership with the Kennesaw State University Entrepreneurship Center to prepare K-12 and post-secondary educators and community-based organizations to teach entrepreneurship.  Ms. Palmer was one of four CCSD educators to attend the Institute.

CCSD Staff, PTAs Win Top Georgia PTA Awards

Category : CCSD

Georgia PTA Awards - School Nurse 7 15 16

Johnston Elementary School’s School Nurse Laure Carroll, right, is presented with the Georgia PTA Outstanding School Nurse Award by Georgia PTA President Lisa-Marie Haygood.

The Cherokee County School District has won top Georgia PTA Awards for school nurses, teachers and school PTAs!

The Georgia PTA, which is led by Cherokee County’s own Lisa-Marie Haygood as its President, presents statewide awards to outstanding educators and school PTAs at its summer conference.


Indian Knoll Elementary School teacher Jennifer Schroter won the Georgia PTA’s Birney Butler Outstanding Educator Award for the elementary-school level.

Johnston ES School Nurse Laure Carroll won the Georgia PTA Outstanding School Nurse Award, and Indian Knoll ES teacher Jennifer Schroter won the Birney Butler Outstanding Educator Award for the elementary-school level!

Mill Creek MS PTSA won the Outstanding Local Unit award out of all middle schools in Georgia and the President’s Membership Award!  Woodstock HS won second place in the State for Outstanding Local Unit among all high schools in Georgia.

River Ridge HS PTSA won the Overall Heart Family-School Partnership Award at the State level, and Indian Knoll ES, Macedonia ES and Mountain Road ES PTAs all won top awards for specific areas of service.

Four school PTAs won the Platinum Membership Award: Clark Creek ES STEM Academy, Dean Rusk MS, Hickory Flat ES and Indian Knoll ES.  A great showing of CCSD school PTAs earned the State’s Model PTA designation: Bascomb ES, Boston ES, Clark Creek ES STEM, Dean Rusk MS, Freedom MS, Hickory Flat ES, Holly Springs ES STEM Academy, Indian Knoll ES, Johnston ES, Little River ES, Macedonia ES, Mill Creek MS, Mountain Road ES, Oak Grove ES Fine Arts Academy, River Ridge HS, Sequoyah HS, Sixes ES and Woodstock HS.

“Our schools, teachers and students benefit greatly from the outstanding alliance we foster with our PTA volunteers,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said.  “The PTA’s support – whether raising funds for schools’ needs, logging thousands of volunteer hours or advocating for public schools locally and at the State Capitol – is invaluable to our success.  We’re so proud to see our employees honored by the Georgia PTA, and we’re delighted to see our PTA volunteers recognized at the State level for their dedication.”

Georgia PTA Awards - Mill Creek MS 7 15 16

Mill Creek Middle School PTSA leaders, from left to right, Jessi Brenneman, Brenda Page, Ambrea Holman and Olga Spivey, celebrating winning the Georgia PTA’s Outstanding Local Unit award out of all middle schools in Georgia! The school’s PTSA also won the President’s Membership Award and Model PTA designation.

CCSD Media Specialist of the Year Named Regional Winner!

Category : CCSD

RICE Jennifer

Cherokee County School District’s 2016 Media Specialist of the Year has been named the Regional winner!

Macedonia Elementary School Media Specialist Jennifer Rice in March was surprised with the CCSD award, and this week was named the Regional winner for North Central Georgia by the Georgia Library Media Association and Georgia Association of Instructional Technology!  She now will be considered for the statewide Georgia Library Media Specialist of the Year award to be announced in November.

“This award confirms what we in CCSD already know: Jennifer Rice is an extraordinary media specialist and talented educator, as well as a passionate advocate for her profession,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said, noting this is the second consecutive year a CCSD media specialist has won the Regional title.  “Congratulations to Jennifer and the Macedonia Elementary School community for this outstanding recognition!”

Winners are selected based on the following criteria:

  • Leadership role through staff development, committee involvement, or professional advocacy;
  • Involvement in professional organizations;
  • Promotion of information technology utilization and literacy;
  • Promotion of reading and literature;
  • Involving parents and/or the community in the library media program as partners;
  • Working collaboratively with the educators in your building;
  • Innovative techniques used in your library media program; and,
  • Deliberate and ongoing professional development as a learner which is relevant to media services.

Ms. Rice and other Regional winners will be recognized at the Georgia Educational Technology Conference this fall, at which the State winner will be named.  Regional winners will receive plaques and $50 awards; the State winner will receive a $200 award.

A graduate of Georgia College & State University, where she earned bachelor’s, master’s and specialist degrees in education, Ms. Rice began her career as a classroom teacher before following her true calling to serve as a media specialist.  In addition to her traditional media specialist responsibilities, she also organizes the school’s reading bowl team, spelling bee and student news team.  Ms. Rice recently was named to the Georgia Children’s Picturebook Award Committee for a three-year appointment.

CCSD Schools, Staff Honored by Cherokee County and Georgia PTA District 13

Category : CCSD

The Mill Creek Middle School PTSA was named the Outstanding Local Unit award for middle schools by Georgia PTA District 13.  The PTSA also earned the top honor from the Cherokee County Council PTA, as well as the Heart Family-School Partnership Award for ‘Sharing Power’ and the Model PTA designation.  From left to right: Laura Logan, Carolyn Kenney, Hope Burgamy, Ambrea Holman, Olga Spivey and Principal Dr. Kerry Martin.

Laure Carroll

Cherokee County School District educators and PTAs won top Georgia PTA District 13 Awards at the organization’s annual awards ceremony.

The Georgia PTA District 13 organization, which represents the school PTAs and county PTA councils of Cherokee, Forsyth, Gordon and Whitfield counties, presents annual awards to recognize outstanding educators and school PTAs.

Teacher Jennifer Schroter of Indian Knoll ES won the Birney Butler Outstanding Educator Award, and Laure Carroll of Johnston ES was named Outstanding School Nurse.

Five school PTA units won District 13 awards including Mill Creek MS, which earned the Outstanding Local Unit award for middle schools.

Mountain Road ES won the Best Idea Award for schools of its size (750 students or smaller) for the “Battle at Thunder Mountain” video.

Three schools won Heart Family-School Partnership Awards: River Ridge HS won the Overall Award; Indian Knoll ES won in the “Welcoming All Families” category and Macedonia ES in the “Supporting Student Success” category.

The Cherokee County Council of PTA also presents annual awards. It honored Indian Knoll ES Principal Dr. Ann Gazell as the Outstanding Principal of the year, and also named Laure Carroll as its Outstanding School Nurse. Clark Creek ES STEM Academy teacher Lauren Abrams received a Birney Butler Outstanding Educator Award, and Hickory Flat ES won a Best Idea Award for its “Thunder Mountain” obstacle course fun run.

Indian Knoll ES PTA member Steve Miller won the Visionary Award, and Hearst-Family School Partnership winners, in addition to those that also won at District 13, are Mill Creek MS for “Sharing Power” and Bascomb ES for “Collaborating with the Community.”

School PTAs honored as Outstanding Local Units are: elementary school (750 or smaller), Sixes ES, first place; Johnston ES, second place; Hickory Flat ES, third place; elementary school (751 and larger), Indian Knoll, first place; Macedonia ES, second place; Little River ES, third place; middle school, Mill Creek MS, first place; Dean Rusk MS, second place; Freedom MS, third place; high school, Woodstock HS, first place; Sequoyah HS, second place;

Dr. Ann Gazell

Schools honored for Model PTAs are: elementary schools, Sixes ES, first place; Macedonia ES, second place; Johnston ES, third place; and Indian Knoll ES, Mountain Road ES, Hickory Flat ES, Bascomb ES, Little River ES, Oak Grove ES Fine Arts Academy, Clark Creek ES STEM Academy; middle schools, Mill Creek MS, first place; Freedom MS, second place; Dean Rusk MS, third place; high schools, Sequoyah HS, first place; Woodstock HS, second place; and River Ridge HS, third place.


Board Briefs: School Board Honors Retiring Superintendent of Schools

Board Briefs - Dr. Petruzielo HonoredThe School Board on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016 unanimously voted to recognize retiring Superintendent of Schools Dr. Frank R. Petruzielo by naming the new Educational Services Facility in his honor.

Dr. Petruzielo, who is retiring at the end of the month and served at his final School Board meeting on Thursday, was humbled by the recognition, noting that the past 17 years of service to the Cherokee County School District “have been the best of my 50-year career in education.”

“I was expecting a plaque,” Dr. Petruzielo joked after the surprise honor was announced. “This is an extraordinary honor and an unbelievable recognition. I don’t think that in my career I’ve ever felt as appreciated as I do this evening!”

Dr. Petruzielo, whose leadership and accomplishments were celebrated with numerous standing ovations, went on to thank: CCSD teachers, noting how much he appreciates their “sacrifices and hard work”; his wife and family; his senior staff; School Board members; local education reporters; his dedicated executive secretary and administrative assistant; and the community’s “incredible” PTA volunteers and leaders.

“I hope everyone will agree that I am leaving the School District in good shape and in good hands,” Dr. Petruzielo said. The much-needed administrative facility is under construction on the Bluffs Parkway in Canton and will open in August 2017. A dedication ceremony for “The Dr. Frank R. Petruzielo Educational Services Facility” will be held upon the facility’s completion.

School Board members praised Dr. Petruzielo for his dedication and success and thanked him for his service on behalf of students, parents and the broader community; and expressed appreciation for the professional relationships he built with them.

“Sir, you have set the standard for education,” said Board Member Rick Steiner, who stood to deliver his message as a sign of respect. Mr. Steiner noted his heroes are his father; his wrestling coaches; Ted Turner and Muhammad Ali, for whom he worked; and that he adds Dr. Petruzielo to that list: “You have taught me how to be a leader.”

Board Briefs - Dr. Petruzielo RetirementBoard Vice Chair Patsy Jordan wiped away tears as she thanked Dr. Petruzielo for beginning a life-changing journey for her… from his recommendation that she be hired as a CCSD teacher 17 years ago to serving alongside him on the School Board dais. “It has been one of the greatest experiences of my life,” she said.

The meeting included several other surprise recognitions for Dr. Petruzielo, including establishment by the Cherokee County Educational Foundation of a professional development annual scholarship in his name. The “Dr. Frank R. Petruzielo Leadership Award” is a $1,500 annual award that will be granted by CCEF to the most outstanding graduate of the CCSD Superintendent’s Leadership Academy for teacher-leaders, a capacity-building program instituted by Dr. Petruzielo. The grant enables the winner, who will be selected by his/her peers, to participate in additional professional development opportunities.

“Dr. P is a visionary with unsurpassed leadership,” CCEF Board President William “Billy” G. Hasty Jr. said as he announced the scholarship. Since its establishment in 2012 with Dr. Petruzielo’s support, CCEF has issued more than $80,000 in grants to the School District’s teachers, students and schools, with another $25,000 to be awarded in February. “It has been such a pleasure to be a part of this and witness all that is happening in the School District. You’re an inspiration.”

Following recognition of CCSD for its third consecutive inclusion in annual Advanced Placement (AP) District Honor Roll Recognition, which celebrates school districts with increasing percentages of student participation and success in the AP Program, Dr. Petruzielo was honored by The College Board, which administers the Program. “During your tenure, you have opened the door of opportunity for so many students,” Kendall Hawkins with The College Board said in her remarks praising Dr. Petruzielo for increasing student access to not only AP courses, but also to SAT and PSAT testing. Since Dr. Petruzielo’s arrival in 1999, CCSD has seen dramatic increases in participation and passage rates for these courses and tests… 108% increase in SAT participation, 260% increase in PSAT participation and 809% increase in AP participation.

During the Public Participation section of the meeting, longtime CCSD teacher Anita Geoghagan praised Dr. Petruzielo for his passionate advocacy for teachers and public education. “You didn’t take no for an answer even when there were times when that would have been easier,” she said.

The School Board’s regular meeting followed a Strategic Work Session, during which Dr. Petruzielo and his staff briefed the Board on important issues, including: a 2016-17 CCSD budget forecast in light of the Governor’s release of his proposed State budget for next year and anticipated State legislation (an initial CCSD report in this regard is attached); a capital outlay program update; the most recent status report on the Governor’s “Opportunity School District” local school State takeover plan; and a draft 2016-17 CCSD Organizational Chart.

During its regular meeting, the School Board also:

  • Approved a three-year employment contract for Dr. Brian V. Hightower, whom the Board unanimously appointed last month to serve as the next Superintendent of Schools, from Feb. 1, 2016 through Jan. 31, 2019;
  • Re-elected Patsy Jordan to serve as Vice Chair for a second one-year term;
  • Recognized Teasley MS as a Georgia 2015 Reward School for outstanding student progress, designating it as among the top 10% of Title I schools in Georgia;
  • Recognized Johnston ES for being named a Platinum-Level Fit Friendly School by the American Heart Association… making it the first in CCSD to earn this National recognition. Lynn Ziner, youth market director for the Association, attended the meeting to present Johnston ES with the plaque;
  • Recognized CCSD Adaptive PE teacher Amy Aenchbacher as Recipient of 2015 BlazeSports Triumph of the Human Spirit Award for making a significant impact in Georgia through adaptive sport and recreation;
  • Recognized 2015-16 Reinhardt University/CCSD Mathematics Tournament Winners;
  • Recognized State and Region Champions from Creekview HS Competition Cheerleading, Softball and Volleyball teams and Sequoyah HS Volleyball team;
  • Adopted the Georgia Education Coalition (GEC) 2016 Legislative Priorities;
  • Approved monthly financial reports;
  • Approved 2015-16 School Improvement Plans (SIPs);
  • Approved out-of-state travel;
  • Approved out-of-state and overnight student field trips;
  • Approved monthly update on capital outlay projects; and,
  • Approved monthly personnel recommendations.

Next School Board meeting: 7 p.m. Feb. 4, 2016